Abstract: The Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) is an arms control agreement which outlaws the production, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons. Its full name is the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction. The agreement is administered by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which is an independent organization based in The Hague, Netherlands.
The main obligation under the convention is the prohibition of use and production of chemical weapons, as well as the destruction of all chemical weapons. The destruction activities are verified by the OPCW. As of July 2010, around 60% of the (declared) stockpile of chemical weapons has thus been destroyed. The convention also has provisions for systematic evaluation of chemical and military plants, as well as for investigations of allegations of use and production of chemical weapons based on intelligence of other state parties.
As of August 2010, 188 states are party to the CWC, and another two
countries have signed but not yet ratified the convention.
Intergovernmental consideration of a chemical and biological weapons ban was initiated in 1968 within the 18-nation Disarmament Committee, which, after numerous changes of name and composition, became the Conference on Disarmament (CD) in 1984. On September 3, 1992 the Conference on Disarmament submitted to the U.N. General Assembly its annual report, which contained the text of the Chemical Weapons Convention. The General Assembly approved the Convention on November 30, 1992, and The U.N. Secretary-General then opened the Convention for signature in Paris on January 13, 1993. The CWC remained open for signature until its entry into force on April 29, 1997, 180 days after the deposit of the 65th instrument of ratification (by Hungary). The convention augments the Geneva Protocol of 1925 for chemical weapons and includes extensive verification measures such as on-site inspections. It does not, however, cover biological weapons.
Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)
Main article: Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons
The convention is administered by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which acts as the legal platform for specification of the CWC provisions (the Conference of State Parties is mandated to change the CWC, pass regulations on implementation of CWC requirements etc.). The organisations furthermore conducts inspections at military and industrial plants to ensure compliance of member states.
Key points of the Convention
1. Prohibition of production and use of chemical weapons
2. Destruction (or monitored conversion to other functions) of chemical weapons production facilities
3. Destruction of all chemical weapons (including chemical weapons abandoned outside the state parties territory)
4. Assistance between State Parties and the OPCW in the case of use of chemical weapons
5. An OPCW inspection regime for the production of chemicals which might be converted to chemical weapons
cooperation in the peaceful use of chemistry in relevant areas
Almost all countries in the world have joined the Chemical Weapons Convention. Currently 188 of the 195 states recognized by the United Nations are party to the CWC. Of the seven states that are not, two have signed but not yet ratified the treaty (Burma and Israel) and five states have not signed the treaty (Angola, North Korea, Egypt, Somalia, and Syria).
of Member States
Member states are represented at the OPCW by their permanent representative. This function is generally combined with the function of Ambassador. For the preparation of OPCW inspections and preparation of declarations, member states have to constitute a national authority.
The total world declared stockpile of chemical weapons was about 30,308 tons in early 2010. A total of 71,315 tonnes of agents, 8.67 million munitions and containers, and 70 production facilities were declared to OPCW before destruction activities began. In addition, several countries that are not members are suspected of having chemical weapons, especially Syria and North Korea, while some member states (including Sudan and the People's Republic of China) have been accused by others of failing to disclose their stockpiles.
The convention distinguishes three classes of controlled substance, chemicals which can either be used as weapons themselves or used in the manufacture of weapons. The classification is based on the quantities of the substance produced commercially for legitimate purposes. Each class is split into Part A, which are chemicals that can be used directly as weapons, and Part B which are chemicals useful in the manufacture of chemical weapons.
Schedule 1: Schedule 1 chemicals have few, or no uses outside of chemical weapons. These may be produced or used for research, medical, pharmaceutical or chemical weapon defence testing purposes but production above 100 grams per year must be declared to the OPCW. A country is limited to possessing a maximum of 1 tonne of these materials. Examples are mustard and nerve agents, and substances which are solely used as precursor chemicals in their manufacture. A few of these chemicals have very small scale non-military applications, for example minute quantities of nitrogen mustard are used to treat certain cancers.
Schedule 2: Schedule 2 chemicals have legitimate small-scale applications. Manufacture must be declared and there are restrictions on export to countries which are not CWC signatories. An example is thiodiglycol which can be used in the manufacture of mustard agents, but is also used as a solvent in inks.
Schedule 3: Schedule 3 chemicals have large-scale uses apart from chemical weapons. Plants which manufacture more than 30 tonnes per year must be declared and can be inspected, and there are restrictions on export to countries which are not CWC signatories. Examples of these substances are phosgene, which has been used as a chemical weapon but which is also a precursor in the manufacture of many legitimate organic compounds and triethanolamine, used in the manufacture of nitrogen mustard but also commonly used in toiletries and detergents.
The treaty also deals
with carbon compounds called in the treaty Discrete organic chemicals.
These are any carbon compounds apart from long chain polymers, oxides,
sulfides and metal carbonates, such as organophosphates. The OPCW must be informed of, and can inspect, any
plant producing (or expecting to produce) more than 200 tonnes per year, or 30
tonnes if the chemical contains phosphorus, sulfur or fluorine, unless the
plant solely produces explosives or hydrocarbons (Wikipedia, 2012).